Grocery Stores along the Cambie Corridor

I must admit I am disloyal. At least when it comes to grocery stores. Sometimes I feel the compulsion to purchase as ethically as possible, and other times I just want the cheapest vegetables I can find. Thankfully, Cambie corridor has a wide variety of grocery stores to meet any feeling at a given moment. Working from South to North, these are the benefits and drawbacks of each grocery store.

Choices Markets

Located at 3493 Cambie Street, this is the only grocery store along Cambie Street between the Safeway at Oakridge Centre on 41st Street and the cluster of grocery stores at Broadway-City Hall skytrain station. Choices Markets is a BC owned and operated chain that supports local farmers and food makers, as well as contributing to local community building. I enjoy supporting local businesses and feel good about contributing to the economy in my area, however my wallet can’t afford to do this all the time. For those who can and are looking for natural, organic and specialty foods, Choices carries a great variety, including fair trade items and a gluten-free bakery.

Kin’s Farm Market

Located in City Square Mall at 555 West 12th Avenue and at Oakridge Centre, this is a more affordable grocery store that strives to deliver fresh produce by sourcing from local farmers. They are known for their family-team environment, but those looking to meet special dietary needs probably won’t be satisfied here. Kin’s has some of the lowest prices in fruit and often has great deals on produce, so it’s always worth stopping by.

Safeway

Also located in City Square Mall at 555 and Oakridge Centre, this grocery store chain has a wide variety of selection and well as full-service options, like a pharmacy, bakery, and household goods. There isn’t much focus on local products, but they carry options for both lower priced generic brand and higher priced ethical goods.

A & L Market 

Located at 458 West Broadway, right beside Broadway-City Hall Canada line skytrain station and the 99-B line bus stop (Eastbound toward Commercial-Broadway station), this smaller grocery store epitomizes convenience. Their produce and meat prices are consistently the lowest, but don’t expect to find any focus on local, organic, or GMO-free products. They also have a decent selection of Asian good, although definitely not as much selection as T & T. This place gets crowded during rush hour, but don’t be turned off by the long checkout line because their cashiers are exceptionally efficient.

No Frills 

Located at 310 West Broadway
Vancouver, No Frills offers similar selection to its big sister grocery chain Superstore, including a pharmacy. It is able to provide lower food prices by reducing operating costs—that means no costly displays and advertising or in store meat cutting or bakery. Their “won’t be beat” slogan promises to price match any competitors with flyer proof. Although a bit off Cambie, I think it’s worth the trip for the wider selection at great prices.

 Whole Foods

Located at 510 West 8th Avenue, this is the place I go for a splurge that I can feel good about. This higher end grocery store has a huge selection of specialty products to meet any dietary need. For example, if you are lactose intolerant, but still want to enjoy delicious yogurt, my favourite is Yoso coconut yogurt in the chocolate flavour with chia seeds sprinkled on top. Whole Foods cares are about environmental stewardship, ethical sourcing, and ecological sustainability. They prohibit the use of artificial colourings, flavourings, preservatives, hydronated oils, high fructose corn syrup in their food ingredients and only source antibiotic and pesticide-free meat and seafood, They developed their own Eco-Scale cleaning product standards and organic certification for body care products. I like to think of this place as the grocery store I would go to if money were not an object.

Save-On-Foods

Located at 2308 Cambie Street, this popular grocery chain has great quality and selection. I think of Save-On as a sort of middle ground, where I can find decently priced products with a bit of an ethical edge. For example, they have SeaChoice sustainable seafood options and a number of local products. They also have pharmacy and full service bakery.

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Oakridge Centre

Oakridge Centre is one of my favourite places to run my errands because it’s not too busy and has everything I need. Right now is the season of weddings, and I can rely on Hudson’s Bay for excellent household goods. If I want to splurge, there are items from Crate & Barrel are sure to be on my friends’ wish list. Oakridge Centre is known for it’s higher end selection of stores, but also offers a wide variety of shops for any taste.

Located at 650 West 41st Avenue, it is 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver or Richmond, on the southwest corner of the intersection at Cambie Street and 41st Avenue. Visitors can take the Canada Line train to Oakridge-41st station or find parking in the many parking lots for up to 4 hours. Specific directions on how to access each parking lot and store hours are described on the Oakridge centre website.

East Entrance

If I’m taking the Canada Line train to the centre, the Atrium entrance is closest to the Oakridge-41st station. The popular White Spot restaurant is fantastic place to a sit-down lunch. The family friendly atmosphere is great for a casual meal, and their Pirate Paks are always a hit with children. My favourites are their Toasted Shrimp Sandwich and Manhattan Clam Chowder soup!

Also accessible at this entrance are Blenz cafe, Crate & Barrel, an RBC branch, and the North Tower offices. A number of real estate, insurance, and legal services are available in the North Tower, as well as a post office. The best parking lot to access these is the North Parkade.

South Entrance

If I prefer something to eat from the food court, the South entrance is accessible by the South or Rooftop parking lot. My favourites from the food court at My Toan Vietnamese subs or Taco Luis tater tots.

This is also the best entrance to access Safeway to pick up groceries, visit the Scotiabank branch, or the South Tower, which contains a number of Medical and Dental Offices.

Hudson’s Bay

Many wedding parties have registries with Hudson’s Bay, which is nice because then I can choose a more personal gift from a pool of items I know they will enjoy. To access Hudson’s Bay department store, there are both North and West entrances. The mall entrance from Hudson’s Bay opens up to the West Galleria, where visitors will find a Bank of Montreal branch, Apple Store, and many other shops.

The West Galleria often has events like art exhibitions, Chinese New Year celebrations, and Santa’s Home are located along the West Galleria.

Southwest Entrance

If I’m looking for a smaller snack, Saint Germain bakery in the west side of the centre close to the Southwest entrance is the perfect treat. It’s a right turn off the West Galleria from Hudson’s Bay. The bakery has a wide selection of Chinese buns and desserts—my favourite is the decadent coconut bun.

The Southwest entrance also leads to the Penninsula Seafood restaurant, Murchie’s tea & coffee, and an Optometry clinic. Outside of the mall on the west side of the centre, are a public library, Senior’s Centre, Montessori school, Auditorium, Fish Market and Kin’s Farm Market. There is plenty of parking in the Southwest and West Parkades.

Activities for Mothers & Children

For mothers hoping to find an activity with their baby, Stroller Fitness meets every Wednesday from 9:30-10:30 am by the Coach store close to the Southwest entrance. Further down the West Galleria from Hudson’s Bay, there is a children’s play area in front of the Lego store where mothers like to take their children to burn off some energy.

If you have younger children in tow, they will definitely enjoy riding around in the colourful strollers designed like cars that you can checkout from the concierge in the West Galleria. It’s much more enjoyable shopping, running errands, or even escaping the summer heat with children contained in a stroller and a less busy atmosphere.

10K Loop from Queen Elizabeth park to False Creek

One of my favourite running routes is around False Creek. Although my 10k route down to the docks does have a number of traffic lights, I enjoy passing by the local stores and parks along the way. The route is from Queen Elizabeth Park, down Heather Street, along False Creek, passing Science World, then back across Cambie Street Bridge, and all the way up Cambie Street to the park.

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The best pars of running down Heather is passing by the beautiful character houses and, at this time of year, fluffy cherry blossoms lining the streets. As your pass Douglas and Heather Parks, you can often see children’s sports teams, and a small outdoor fitness gym for body weight workouts.

Going down towards the water is extremely downhill, which I like for training ankle/knee strength. There are a couple lights passing by the Vancouver General Hospital and crossing West Broadway, but after taking a left to cross 6th Avenue at Moberly Road, you’ll be at the seawall in no time. Following Moberly Road, turn left at Market Hill, which leads to Leg-in-Boot Square, and then feast your eyes on the stunning view of countless yachts docked in the sparkling water.

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For this route, I turn right at the water, which will take you under the Cambie Street Bridge. As you make your way through Hinge Park, you’ll see the fantastic Vancouver Biennale sculpture called Human Structures by Jonathan Borofsky. Next, you’ll be at Telus World of Science (or Science World), one of the most iconic structures in Vancouver. The golf ball-shaped building is definitely worth a visit for all ages, but if you aren’t keen on being surrounded by children, keep your eyes peeled for the next After Dark adult evening event. This will mark 5k.

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You might want to take a slight detour to view the newest Vancouver Biennale sculpture called the Trans Am Totem by Marcus Bowcott on Quebec Street and Milross Avenue. It’s a fascinating sight, and only a couple minutes off the seawall route.

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As you make your way towards the North end of the Cambie Street Bridge, you will pass by Edgewater Casino and enter Coopers Park. Going up the bridge will be your first real incline in the route. On the bridge, don’t forget to look out to enjoy a spectacular view of Science World flanked by aesthetically pleasing evenly spaced high-rises.

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Once you exit the bridge, prepare yourself for three things: a major incline, traffic lights, and pedestrian congestion. I prefer to climb hills when I can keep my momentum, so this is my least favourite part of the route. The congestion is particularly high by Broadway-City Hall Canada line station.

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From there, the traffic lights and congestion reduce. Around 12th Avenue, after passing City Square Mall, the incline reduces significantly. Cambie corridor has loads of cute local restaurants and cafes that might give you some ideas on where to carb-up later. Before you know it, you’ll be back at the park!

Jog Through Queen Elizabeth Park

One of my favourite places to jog is in Queen Elizabeth park, particularly in the late afternoon or evening (depending on the time of the year) so I can catch the sun setting over downtown at the lookout point. My route takes me around the inner perimeter of the park, then up to the top of the pavilion and back down, allowing me to incorporate at least two hill-climbs into the relatively short, high-intensity workout.

I usually enter the park through the Cambie street entrance across from 30th Avenue. If I’m feeling up for a challenge, I’ll turn left towards W 29th Avenue because the southern stretch along W 37th Avenue from Ontario street up to the Ridgeway Bikeway is a gruelling incline, whereas the major incline in the opposite direction is a more gradual, smaller path jutting left off W 33rd Avenue.

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The Challenging Route

If I’m taking the more challenging route, I’ll pass by a couple duck ponds, the first one as I’m running parallel to Midlothian Avenue, then after I’ve run down the hill onto W 33rd Avenue, I’ll see another pond along Ontario street. Often there will be some frisbee golf players by Ontario street, and as I take a right turn up W 37th Avenue, sometimes I’ll see some pitch & putt golf players on my right through the chain fence.

Once I’ve finally reached the top of the hill at Ridgeway Bikeway, I’ll turn right, which will take me by the off-leash dog park and tennis courts on my left. The rose gardens in the southwest of the park will be visible on my right side as I continue on the path towards the northwest until I reach a small sign pointing up a path towards the middle of the park labelled “Garden Displays”.

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Final Push to the Top

Hopefully a second wind will have hit me because the steep incline to the top of the pavilion will have my thighs burning, but the view at the top is my reward. As I make my way towards the Bloedel Conservatory dome, I will take a right towards the plaza. In the mornings, there are always groups of people diligently practicing tai chi in the plaza, but in the afternoon it’s mostly tourists photographing the Dancing Waters fountain and famous “Knife Edge-Two Piece” sculpture by Henry Moore.

Sometimes I’ll take a breather to absorb the view at top and stretch my hamstrings. The lookout point in front of the Bloedel Conservatory is lined with benches for visitors to enjoy the view of the North Shore and spectacular mountains behind it. However, if you make your way towards the Seasons in the Park restaurant, you will find bronze sculptures of a man photographing three people by J. Seward Johnson Jr. From this viewpoint, you can clearly recognize BC Place and the Top of Vancouver revolving restaurant.

Finally, I’ll make my way back down with a smile of my lips, because I’ll just have completed a fantastic 5k workout!

Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth park is one of Vancouver’s lesser known treasures, offering a wide range of activities for any age or mood. Walking trails throughout the gorgeous quarry gardens bring visitors across streams and a wooden footbridge above a small waterfall, creating a romantic atmosphere. The “Dancing Waters” fountain at the top of the plaza leads to the dome-shaped Bloedel Conservatory. Inside the conservatory is lush, exotic plant-life and more than 200 free-flying birds from all over the world. During the warmer months, the quarry gardens teem with a brilliant range of flowers, although the rose garden in the south-western perimeter is particularly popular.

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Activities

Joggers are found looping the 52-hectare park at any given time. There are also tennis courts, a pitch and putt golf course, a Frisbee golf course, a lawn bowling club, roller hockey rink, basketball court, and tai chi practiced at the top of the plaza. Those with four-legged friends often congregate at the off-leash area of the park, and the park is well equipped with receptacles for bagging waste. The lakes along the perimeter of the park also provide family fun for those who like to feed the ducks floating in the water.

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Best view in the city

QE park has arguably the best view in the city at 152 m above sea level. The spectacular view overlooking downtown to the mountains above North Shore can be enjoyed in the fine dining Seasons in the Park restaurant or for free on any of the many park benches. A number of sculptures can be found around lookout points, which visitors enjoy posing with for photographs. Wedding parties, often come take photographs in the whimsical gardens, but intimate ceremonies can also take place in the Chapel Celebration pavilion.

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Getting here

QE park is located along the Cambie Corridor by King Edward and Oakridge-41st stations on the Canada line. Entrances can be found at Ontario Street and West 33rd Avenue, or along West 37th Avenue between Columbia and Mackie streets. Those arriving by car can access the park either from Cambie Street at West 29th or 33rd Avenues, or from Main Street at East 33rd Avenue. There is free parking in the perimeter of the park and paid parking closer to the plaza.